[ This is email that has been forwarded to the list. -Jeff ]
Glad to hear that you are trying the sourdough. I like the stuff and use
it quite a bit. Unfortunately, some of my most favorite recipies aren't
made in the bread machine (like pancakes, or sourdough chocolate cake).
When my grandmother passed away, I inherited her recipe box full of sourdough
recipes. When you get tired of making bread, let me know and I'll pass some
Anyway, in answer to your questions:
> 1) There's no yeast in the starter. Is this right? I've never
> seen a starter without yeast.
I'm sorry, did I forget to list yeast in the recipe? I did use yeast in
my starter (probably one package).
Many authors (the "frugal gormet" for example) claim that it is possible
to get a starter going without yeast. In this case you are relying on the
local airborn yeast to get in your starter. This, I would imagine, is a
little more risky than just adding the yeast yourself. I'm told that
African "friendship bread" is made in this manner.
> 2) What does "proofed" mean? Is it just the process you describe
> of adding flour and water the night before?
Yes, proofing is just the process of getting your starter active before
using it. Some call this "making the sponge." I find it difficult to think
about making bread the four hours in advance needed by the bread machine, and
almost impossible to think about it a day in advance. I therefore often skip
this step. I have a very active starter which starts bubbling away as soon as
it gets up to room temperature so it really doesn't make much difference.
Some people think that proofing the starter makes the final product taste
more sour, but I haven't really noticed a difference.
> 3) You call for "all-purpose flour." Is this instead of "bread
> flour?" Don't you need the added gluten for this recipie?
I've used both types of flour with my sourdough. I never add gluten to
the all-purpose flour and it comes out just fine. Your mileage may vary.
By the way, I often find myself without any all-purpose flour to feed
my starter after making the bread (we go through the stuff pretty fast since
getting the machine). In such cases, I just through what ever I have into
my starter. If I have the bread flour, it throw it in; if not I put whole
wheat flour in. Once I even put rye flour in it. None of these seem to
hurt the starter. In fact, it gives it a little more character.
In general, I find that it is difficult to kill the starter if you use
it often enough (once a week is reccomended). Even if I let mine sit in
the refigerator for a long time (more than a month), I have always been
able to "revive" it with a good feeding. Sometimes the starter separates
with an oily layer on top--I just stir it in. Even if the thing dries up,
I can get it going by adding some liquid.
I am told however to toss it out if it turns pink or if it starts smelling
Well, good luck and happy sourdoughing.